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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-10-22

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Wednesday, October 22, 1997

CONTENTS

  • [01] Denktash expected to meet Annan
  • [02] Disy hopes coalition will continue
  • [03] Antiquities Department stretched to the limit
  • [04] `Panicos shot until he ran out of bullets'
  • [05] German icon haul a drop in the ocean
  • [06] US disturbed by buzzing incident
  • [07] Israel denies military co-operation with Turkey aimed at Cyprus
  • [08] Denktash to have his 'last word' in US
  • [09] Turkish Cypriot farmers seek to buy barley seed from the south
  • [10] Has Diko pegged itself into a corner?
  • [11] House committee coming to the end of controversial Akamas review
  • [12] Alternative therapy for children with special needs
  • [13] Countdown to Radio Marathon

  • [01] Denktash expected to meet Annan

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is expected to meet UN Secretary- general Kofi Annan during his visit this week to the United States, a Turkish Cypriot source in New York said yesterday.

    Denktash is due in Washington tomorrow for a week-long stay during which he will confer with US officials and attend a ball given by the Federation of Turkish-American Associations, the source told Reuters.

    Denktash is expected to be in New York from October 30 to November 4 or 5, and has requested a meeting with the Annan on either October 31 or November 3.

    Meanwhile, the mayor of the ghost town of Varosha yesterday rejected claims by the Turkish Cypriot Evkaf foundation that it owned half of the abandoned town, and has protested to the UN, CNA reported in Nicosia.

    Andreas Pouyiouros said in a letter to Annan and European Union representative Gilles Anouil that Turkish Cypriots were trying to take over Greek Cypriot-owned properties.

    "Famagusta and the remaining occupied areas belong to us, the Greek Cypriot rightful owners," he was quoted as saying.

    Evkaf began legal action on Monday to take over control of Varosha. "I want to take back control of our properties," said Taner Dervis, head of Evkaf, which represents Muslim religious foundations in Cyprus.

    Dervis says Evkaf is the rightful owner of more than half of the properties in Varosha.

    Pouyiouros called Dervis' claims provocative, and said Evkaf was trying to take control of Greek Cypriot property "in a cunning way".

    Denktash earlier this year threatened to open Varosha to Turkish Cypriot settlement if the government goes ahead with its planned purchase of ground to air missiles from Russia.

    [02] Disy hopes coalition will continue

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DISY last night said it hoped the coalition government would continue, adding that political achievements far outweighed any personal differences.

    With the threat of Diko party ministers pulling out of the government, Disy's political office offered a firm olive branch yesterday.

    "We expressed our wish for the coalition to continue as the alliance has been a success. We regret that the split was not due to policies but to a personal issue," leader Nicos Anastassiades said after a Disy meeting.

    He suggested that the current rift between Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou and President Glafcos Clerides was based on a misunderstanding about a perceived snub or show of disrespect towards the Diko leader by the president.

    Anastassiades suggested that once the smoke had cleared Kyprianou's decision might be seen as "rash".

    "With the proper analysis it can be ascertained that all due respect and importance has been given to our alliance partner," he said.

    But the Disy leader also made it clear that his party stood by a conference decision to back President Clerides if he announces his candidacy for a second term in office as president.

    Independent candidate George Iacovou said he was not surprised by the split. "The only surprise is that uneven Disy-Diko co-operation, which was characterised by continued disagreement and conflict, held together for so long," he said.

    [03] Antiquities Department stretched to the limit

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    RESOURCES at the Antiquities Department are stretched to the limit and lack of staff is holding back excavations and restricting opening hours at smaller museums.

    The problem - raised before the House Communications Committee yesterday by Disy's Paphos deputy Averof Neophytou - met with a sympathetic response.

    But the apparent refusal of the government to create new posts at the department means demands for more staff are unlikely to be met.

    The committee also heard calls from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) for a uniform regime on opening hours for all archaeological sites and museums.

    And the Archaeologists' Association said the Antiquities Department not only needed more staff, but should specify what specialities its new archaeologists should hold.

    It said the department was operating on a regime introduced 30 years ago - with the number of archaeologists rising from six to only nine in three decades.

    Neophytou reeled off a list of problems created by severe undermanning at the department. Of the 24 digs under way in Cyprus, only four are carried out by Cypriots - the rest involve foreign missions which work under the supervision of their Cypriot counterparts.

    Paphos museums do not have any archaeologists, even though Paphos has been singled out by Unesco. The department as a whole employs only nine archaeologists, compared to the 35 who work in Rhodes, 65 in Crete and 630 in Israel.

    Even the Denktash regime has 22, and it uses this argument to deflect criticism about the destruction of the island's cultural heritage in the occupied north, Neophytou said.

    He suggested setting up an Antiquities Authority to operate as a semi- government organisation and resolve the current tricky situation under which the department is subject to the Communications Ministry, even though its work is more related to the Education and Culture Ministry.

    The Antiquities Department's Sophocles Hadjisavvas said he could only agree with most of what Neophytou had to say.

    "We welcome this discussion in the House committee and hope to find similar support in the plenary," he said.

    Hadjisavvas said lack of staff was a serious problem: a proposal made by his department in 1989 had been frozen by the personnel department because it proposed new positions. Personnel has meanwhile come up with a plan of its own to manage people better - but without extra staff.

    "It is a good plan, but cannot solve the problems," he said.

    Hadjisavvas said that despite restricted staff, the department was very active, especially in conservation and publications. There was considerable discussion yesterday about opening hours. Hadjisavvas said archaeological sites were open daily, but the problem was with smaller museums which attracted fewer visitors and for which the Finance Ministry was reluctant to approve funds for more staff.

    The CTO said sites and museums should be open at weekends, and there were calls for a uniform regime for all sites.

    This would help boost tourism and cut down on congestion at major sites, it said.

    [04] `Panicos shot until he ran out of bullets'

    By Martin Hellicar

    THREE Aeroporos brothers on trial for attempted murder came face-to-face with their accuser at the Nicosia Assizes court yesterday.

    Tassos Simellides, convicted to nine years imprisonment in July for his part in the drive-by shooting of Larnaca club owner Antonis Charalambos Fanieros, took the stand as key prosecution witness. Looking pale and smiling nervously, the 28-year-old told the court the Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andreas, 30, and Panicos, 25, - sitting stony-faced in the dock - had intimidated him into taking part in the unsuccessful attempt on Fanieros' life on May 29.

    Simellides, a father of three from Limassol, said the Aeroporos brothers had wanted to kill Fanieros because they believed he was behind an attempt on Hambis's life in 1995. He told the court Panicos had acted as hit-man for the attack at Fanieros's gambling club in Larnaca, while he himself acted as motorbike driver for the "job".

    Armed riot squad (MMAD) and police officers packed the court-room and patrolled its perimeter during the second day of the high-profile trial, for fear the notorious Aeroporos clan might attempt a hit on Simellides.

    Simellides gave an exhaustive account of the events leading up to and surrounding the machine-gun attack during three-and-a-half hours of testimony.

    He said in February, shortly after he was released from prison after serving a sentence for pimping, he was approached by Andreas, whom he had been friends with since 1993.

    "Andreas told me I should be the driver for Hambis to shoot Fanieros. He said Hambis believed Fanieros had been behind the attack on him in 1995," Simellides said. Hambis survived the machine-gun attack after extensive surgery in Israel.

    "I said I didn't want to get involved in stuff like that, but he said if I didn't I might end up dead because Hambis thought I had been in on the attack too," the witness said.

    Simellides said he and Andreas, who is godfather to his four-year-old daughter, later visited a field near Kivides village, outside Limassol, where they dug up a plastic barrel in which a Kalashnikov automatic had been hidden.

    The gun was hidden nearby and was to be used in the attack on Fanieros, Simellides claimed.

    On May 27, two days before the attack, Simellides met Andreas and Panicos outside their cabaret in Limassol, the court heard. "Andreas told me Hambis could not do the hit because of his wound and Panicos would go in his place, " Simellides said. The three then drove to Larnaca, in Hambis's car, where he showed them Fanieros's new club and his apartment, the court heard.

    The plan for the hit was finalised during this trip, Simellides said, adding that the options of blowing up Fanieros or hitting him with an anti- tank gun were also considered but rejected.

    Simellides told the court Panicos had insisted Fanieros be shot with a Kalashnikov just like his older brother had been.

    Simellides met the three brothers at his Limassol bar on the afternoon of May 29 and they told him the hit would be the next day.

    "I said I did not want to, but one of them pushed me against the wall and I hit my head. Hambis was shouting that he knew all along I had been in with those who had attacked him and said I would `go' with them. I said OK, but let's do it today," Simellides said.

    The Aeropori apparently agreed and the plan was put into action.

    Andreas picked up Simellides from his home in Ayios Athanasios and took him to a rendez-vous with Panicos - who went to get the motorbike and Kalashnikov - on the Limassol to Nicosia motorway, the court heard. On the way, Simellides said, Andreas stopped at a take-away to pick up bones for Andreas's dog.

    They met Panicos at about 8pm and he and Simellides drove off to Larnaca, Simellides doing the driving, the court heard. In Larnaca they passed by Fanieros's club and saw his jeep parked outside, Simellides stated. They then went to a nearby field where Panicos loaded the gun before returning to the club, the court heard.

    Once outside the club, Simellides stopped the bike and revved it to try and draw the intended victim out, the witness said. Fanieros appeared at a window and Panicos began firing, the court heard. Fanieros was hit in the neck but survived.

    "I saw Fanieros falling down and heard Panicos shooting. When the bullets ran out I sped off towards Limassol," Simellides said.

    At the Fire Station traffic lights in Larnaca, Simellides said he jumped a red light and they narrowly missed being hit by a car.

    Panicos called his two brothers on his mobile just outside Larnaca, to arrange for them to meet him and Simellides at Governor's beach, as per the plan, the witness said.

    "On the way, at Kofinou, we saw a police Pajero behind us so we changed our plan," Simellides said. "At Lefkara I went off the highway. The police car followed and put it's lights and sirens on. Panicos tapped my helmet and told me to stop. He turned around and shot at the car. The police car's lights went off and I sped off on the old road towards Limassol," Simellides said.

    The two police officers in the patrol car were unhurt but did not manage to stop the motorbike.

    Simellides is expected to complete his testimony when the trial resumes today.

    The Aeropori and Fanieros are rumoured to be members of rival gangs vying for control of drugs, prostitution and gambling rackets.

    [05] German icon haul a drop in the ocean

    By Jean Christou

    AS MANY as 20,000 icons have been removed from churches in the occupied areas, experts believe.

    The figures were revealed following Monday's press conference detailing how the Church and the government recently managed to recover dozens of artifacts stolen from churches in the north since 1974.

    "While this recent event is in itself a major coup, it is not the end," said Honourary Consul of Cyprus in the Hague, Tasoula Georgiou Hadjitofi.

    Many more objects and artefacts remain in the wrong hands and we will continue to pursue their whereabouts until their return," Hadjitofi said.

    She said the magnitude of the destruction of the Cyprus Orthodox Church's cultural heritage in the north could only be estimated.

    Some 15,000 to 20,000 icons have been removed and several dozen major frescoes and mosaics dating from between the 6th and the 15th centuries have been segmented for sale abroad and some destroyed forever. Thousands of other antiquities and historical objects have also disappeared, Hadjitofi said.

    "Apart from the individuals involved in the removal, art dealers from several countries provided a vehicle for the trade in our antiquities and religious objects for which they have received large sums of money from wealthy individuals in the last 23 years," Hadjitofi said.

    The first breakthrough for the Church and the government came in the 'eighties with the confiscation of the four Kanakaria mosaics by the US.

    The mosaics were returned to the island in 1992 after a lengthy court battle against American art dealer Peg Goldberg.

    Other success stories include the return of the Archangel Michael in 1995 and the location of the Royal Doors of Peristerona in a Japanese University.

    The recovery of the latest batch of treasures began when a Dutch art dealer approached Hadjitofi with a proposition to deliver many Cypriot treasures, some located in Germany and Austria.

    The Dutch art dealer, Michel van Rijn, claims to be a descendant of Rembrandt van Rijn - the 17th century Dutch master.

    The plan was that he would gather them all in Munich and buy back the items for the Church.

    The transaction took place in a major bank in Rotterdam where money was exchanged for some 32 frescoes. Then the Dutch art dealer secretly filmed the transaction in Munich which was delivered to German police.

    The raid on the two Munich apartments of a Turk, Dikman Aydin, 60, who claims to be an archaeologist, followed on October 10. Police uncovered 14 boxes with icons and mosaics. A subsequent search revealed another 15 to 20 boxes.

    Aydin has been arrested by German police and faces charges of trading in stolen artefacts, an offence which carries a 15-year sentence.

    [06] US disturbed by buzzing incident

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE US State department has said it is "disturbed" by reports that Turkish jets buzzed the Greek defence minister's plane before arriving in Cyprus.

    But the US said it had no independent confirmation of the reported incidents surrounding the minister's plane, which it considered an unnecessary overflight.

    "If Turkish aircraft flew provocatively close to the Greek defence minister's aircraft, such action would not be consistent with Turkey's stated desire to reduce tension with Greece," said the state department press release.

    But US State Department spokesman James Rubin during his daily briefing considered the Greek minister's arrival in Cyprus as an overflight in itself.

    Asked whether he thought the second plane buzzing incident, when the minister's military aircraft was returning to Greece, was also an overflight, Rubin replied:

    "It's still an overflight, which we think shouldn't happen. There should be a return to the previous prohibition on overflights."

    Rubin urged all parties in the Cyprus problem to avoid steps which complicate or detract efforts to promote dialogue and negotiations in the peace process.

    "We would hope all sides would appreciate the benefits of reinstating a complete and open-ended moratorium on overflights of Cyprus at the earliest possible time."

    Reacting to Rubin's comments, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said there never had been an agreement on overflights in Cyprus air space.

    He said the government had agreed to a short-term unilateral suspension to improve the climate of direct talks which failed miserably in Switzerland.

    "Following our one-sided decision the American government informed us that Turkey decided to avoid flights during this same period but Turkey broke this promise it gave to the American government," said Cassoulides yesterday.

    He added that the buzzing of Akis Tsohatzopoulos' plane warranted clear condemnation from all interested parties.

    "The Cyprus government reserves the right to decide whether and when to invite the Greek Air Force to take part in military exercises."

    Meanwhile, Cyprus yesterday issued a strong protest to the UN against increasing violations of its air space by Turkish fighter jets between September and October.

    "These highly provocative and aggressive actions of Turkey cause serious concern and heighten tension in Cyprus," said the letter addressed to the UN General Assembly.

    Greece has also fired a strong verbal protest against Ankara over Greek airspace violations.

    [07] Israel denies military co-operation with Turkey aimed at Cyprus

    ISRAEL's foreign ministry has dismissed claims that its defence co- operation with Turkey is a threat to Cyprus or Greece.

    "Israel has repeatedly stated that its security co-operation with Turkey is not directed against Greece or Cyprus or any third parties," said an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman.

    The statement came in response to local reports on the recent visit to Turkey by the Israeli chief of staff General Amnon Lipkin Shahak.

    The spokesman stressed that Israel wished to further develop the good relations it had established with Cyprus in all fields.

    "Israel has no interest in taking steps that may negatively impact efforts aimed at finding peaceful solutions to outstanding issues between parties in the area."

    The spokesman added: "the chief of staff represented and conducted himself according to these principles."

    Israel's ambassador to Cyprus, Shemi Tzur, echoed this position in a press statement yesterday.

    "Our goal is to enhance and continue the good relations enjoyed between Israel and Cyprus and to advance and strengthen ties in all fields."

    According to Turkish mainland newspaper Milliyet, Turkey and Israel have agreed jointly to manufacture Popeye I and Popeye II missiles in addition to long-range Delilah missiles.

    Ankara has reportedly adopted a favourable approach to many proposals, including those related to the sale of light arms and satellite communications.

    Milliyet claims the cost of joint projects, which also include the modernisation of Turkey's Phantom jets, will total around $2 billion.

    Israeli military sources are reported as saying that general Shahak proposed that twice-postponed joint military manoeuvres between the two countries be held from January 15 to 20 next year.

    [08] Denktash to have his 'last word' in US

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is expected to meet US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke during his visit this week to the United States.

    "The meeting was agreed in principle," an official from Turkey's Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

    The venue and the time of the meeting have yet to be fixed, the official said.

    Denktash will travel to the US tomorrow to lobby against the EU's decision to begin accession talks with the Cyprus government.

    According to the Anatolian News Agency, Denktash said he would "tell the truth to the American press and officials during his trip to the United States".

    "As the European Union is taking its last step... without listening to the Turkish (Cypriot) side, we will express our last word during this trip," Denktash said.

    [09] Turkish Cypriot farmers seek to buy barley seed from the south

    TURKISH Cypriot farmers want to buy barley from the Cyprus government, papers in the north reported yesterday.

    The Cyprus Turkish farmers Union has requested 100 tons of seed barley from the Greek Cypriot agricultural organisation Eka.

    The Secretary-general of the farmers' union in the north, Alican Kabakci, said they had been in touch with Eka through the World Farmers' Union concerning the request.

    Kabakci said the `authorities' in the north had been informed of the union's actions. He said they were now awaiting the decision of the Cyprus government.

    Meanwhile, Ortam newspaper reported on Saturday that the `Council of Ministers' in the north had granted special permission to former `Health Minister' Mustafa Erbilen to import pork and other meat products from the free areas.

    [10] Has Diko pegged itself into a corner?

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    A FLURRY of statements has followed Diko's preliminary decision to quit the government, but nothing concrete has yet emerged.

    With President Clerides out of the country and silent about his intentions regarding a second term, attention turned to the opposition parties and Disy and Diko - the two parties now on the verge of divorce.

    Disy - its eyes set on the second round of the presidential elections - yesterday sought to keep channels open.

    General-secretary Eleni Vrahimi was explicit - she said both parties should be proud of the achievements of the coalition government and expressed the hope that Diko's decision was "not final."

    There was criticism from Disy's Demetris Syllouris, who unsuccessfully challenged Nicos Anastassiades for the party's presidency. It was directed at Glafcos Clerides and Diko president Spyros Kyprianou, who he said bore most of the blame for the near collapse of the coalition.

    His message was simple - the two leaders knew the coalition was good for Cyprus and should therefore thrash out their differences. Disy and Diko should agree on a political programme for the 1998 elections. "The issue of which person will be candidate is of secondary importance," he added.

    There were strong words too from the Diko camp - with Kypros Chrysostomides insisting the Diko leadership had negotiated itself into a corner over the elections and limited its options to either running Kyprianou on his own, or backing one of the existing candidates.

    Numerical considerations - an oblique reference to Diko's electoral strength - suggest the latter option will have to be adopted, he said.

    Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides, who beat Chrysostomides for Diko's vice presidency, was more cryptic. He said he was a party man and was bound by its decisions.

    But in statements which only fuelled speculation about his views on the coalition, Michaelides added: "I have personal views, which I discuss when I have the chance with the president of the party... But I share and accept the decisions of the majority of the party."

    Asked straight out whether he had disagreed with the decision that Diko's five ministers leave the government, he said: "I have stated my decisions and will state them again... I will not babble on about my personal views."

    But in the same breath Michaelides said Monday's decision by Diko's executive bureau - which he attended - had been unanimous.

    Asked whether there was a possibility Disy and Diko could work together but with a candidate other than Kyprianou, he gave an ambivalent reply: "This issue was not discussed. I see there can be co-operation also with Kyprianou."

    Reaction from the opposition camp was cool. Akel and Edek both said they were ready for talks with Diko at any time, though Akel's Andreas Christou was clear his party would not waver in its support for Iacovou. For his part, Iacovou said the new political scene gave his candidacy new impetus.

    United Democrats' president George Vassiliou indicated the Diko decision may not be final. He said Diko "had not said the final word".

    [11] House committee coming to the end of controversial Akamas review

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE House Environment Committee said yesterday it had nearly completed its year-long review of what should be done with the Akamas.

    The committee is drafting a series of suggestions on the future of the Akamas prompted by a World Bank report last year.

    In its report, the World Bank concluded the Akamas should be preserved as a national park and be declared a development-free zone.

    The issue has been dogged by controversy, with many villages within the Akamas area against such moves.

    With this in mind, the committee has been careful in its handling of the Akamas issue and met Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides behind closed doors yesterday.

    Committee chairman Demetris Eliades said the draft plan, to be put before the House plenum, would take on board two themes, the protection of the environment balanced against the concerns of the communities affected.

    Eliades also dismissed claims that the committee was dragging its feet and hampered by deputies taking up opposing views.

    He said it was just a question of the committee taking its work seriously and trying to find a common goal.

    "I must underline the fact that the committee, up until now, has not reached any decision without it being unanimous. And I would like to believe that this trend will continue," Eliades said afterwards.

    Michaelides said the meeting had been informative and part of a co- ordinated effort to do what was best for the Akamas.

    [12] Alternative therapy for children with special needs

    By Aline Davidian

    SPECIALISTS from across Europe will join their local counterparts in a two- day conference this week on children with special needs.

    The EU-sponsored event - on the theme of "the treatment of children with chronic diseases and special needs through sport and recreation" - is being organised by the Pancyprian League of Parents and Friends of Children with Oncological and Haematological Diseases, Elpida, and runs from Friday to Saturday.

    At a press conference given yesterday, representatives from Elpida said that specialists from Ireland, Belgium and Greece would join their Cypriot colleagues for the event.

    They will present methods used in European programmes for therapy through sport and recreation and share their own experiences in this type of treatment. Such treatment is promoted under the tenth European Community Directive, which governs social and cultural issues.

    The conference will inform the Cypriot public about the psychological requirements of children with cancer and special needs. Meeting such requirements for their total well-being will also be emphasised.

    It is hoped this will encourage Cypriot hospitals to employ more people skilled in areas like music therapy, thus providing better care for children compelled to spend long periods in hospital wards.

    One of the conference organisers, Stella Kyriakidou, stated: "We forget that body and soul are not separate entities. These children require attention to be given to their psychological needs."

    She added that failure to do so often gave these children low self-esteem and eroded their confidence.

    Elpida president, Dr. Loizos Loizou focused on the importance of implementing such treatment in Cyprus. He stated that many developments were being made on this front in Europe since there were 36 million people in the EU with such health problems. If Cyprus hoped to join the Union, he said, parallel steps would have to be taken.

    He mentioned in particular, actor Paul Newman's scheme, which was started in 1988, providing themed recreation for children with cancer at a medieval Irish castle owned by him.

    [13] Countdown to Radio Marathon

    THE EIGHTH Radio Marathon to raise money for people with special needs, will take place this year on November 10 and 11.

    This was announced yesterday at a press conference given in Nicosia by the administrative committee of the Radio Marathon Foundation.

    Eight-hundred-and-seventy-three people with special needs benefitted from last year's collection of 1,220,993. However, the Radio Marathon account currently shows a deficit of 3,745 stated Cleanthis Vakis, president of the Foundation's administrative committee.

    Vakis said all the money raised by the Radio Marathon was deposited in the account of the committee, responsible for its allocation to different institutions. This is done on an individual or group basis according to reports prepared by the Department of Social and Health Services.

    Among the ways that the committee proffers aid to people with special needs mentioned by Vakis, were the employment of skilled personnel to attend to their needs and the distribution of funds to institutions training handicapped children for employment.

    This year's Radio Marathon is sponsored by the Popular Bank and the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation.

    © Copyright 1997 Cyprus Mail

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